Friday, 11 December 2015

Schopenhauer on women

Going to the ball, Gustave Léonard de Jonghe (1829–1893)
Mark Twain said "write what you know", but Schopenhauer's essay on women, which few could deny is blatantly misogynistic, is studied from a philosophical perspective, or is praised to some degree in various anti-feminist rants which treat women as all being the same as rabidly as extremist "woman's- libbers" treated men in the days before feminism became a term. If you read a little about Schopenhauer's personal life you can see that his relationships with women were both limited and strained, and that includes the relationship with his mother. In selecting a painting to illustrate for this post, the one on the right seemed about the best to express the least objectionable aspects of Schopenhauer's thoughts on women, providing that we imagine that the mother is thinking about fashion and priming her daughter for the eventual ball where she will be introduced to a selected group of suitors. Regardless of philosophy or of personal experiences, Schopenhauer was still of his time.

I think it a better approach to treat Schopenhauer's essay as a glimpse into his psychology; his anima. The anima is often spoken of simply as a man's feminine side, but this is not exactly true. As it is an aspect repressed to various degrees, it does not represent a woman so much as a bad caricature of such and the female's animus does the same, in reverse, for men. It is easy for me to imagine, from reading of his relationships with women, that Schopenhauer had a good measure of  repression in that particular department.

Add to his repression, the evidence that his personality type was INFP and we can understand more about Bertrand Russell's opinion that he did not practice what he he preached. The best of Schopenhauer is what best brought out his true passion and that seems to have come from Indian religious philosophy, and in particular, the Upanishads. This topic will start on Monday. It will go far past Schopenhauer; far past his influences on, and commonalities with Jung and Pauli and will extend to aspects of current scientific thought.

Have a liberated weekend.

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